It all started with an article in the July 20, 2007 issue of the Morrison County Record.  The article headline was a quote from the Bible – “For I was thirsty and you gave me water.”   From there, the article described the work of an organization called Humane Borders, which erects water stations in the desert between Mexico and Arizona so that illegal immigrants will not die of thirst as they cross over into the United States.  The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls are involved with this organization and you would think by the letters submitted to the Record over this story that they were giving loaded guns to illegal immigrants rather than water.

Bill Wieczorek started the tirade by saying that the Sisters were “aiding and abetting criminals.”  (MC Record, July 27, 2007)  If he had bothered to pay attention to the full story, he would have realized that Humane Borders is working with the support of the Border Patrol, which is very clear about what it will allow in this situation.

His letter was followed up by a letter from Mary Larson of Duluth, who simply can’t believe that the Franciscan Sisters would dare to do such a thing as to give illegal immigrants water.  She quotes one of the Franciscans from the original article saying, “You said, “If Jesus was sitting there, wouldn’t you give him a ride or water?”  And then answers this question on behalf of Jesus by saying, “Well, Jesus would not be sitting there because he is not illegal, if he wanted the illegal immigrants here, he wouldn’t let them die in the desert and if he wanted them to have water, he could flood the desert.  So, don’t bring Jesus into this and stop fighting the law.”  (Amazing how many people ’round about these parts presume to speak on behalf of God and Jesus.)

Funny, the Jesus I learned about as a child was someone who promoted feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty,and clothing the naked, regardless of the politics of the time, or geopolitical boundaries.  Oh, wait.  There’s a clue here in the title of the article, which is taken from the Bible, a book I would assume Ms. Larson takes great stock in.  If you haven’t cracked a Bible open in a while, let me refresh your memory.  The quote is taken from Matthew 25: Verse 35, but the full parable is called “The Sheep and the Goats” and is Matthew 25: Verses 31-46.  Here it is in its entirety from the New International Version of the Bible:

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I don’t know, but I think this passage is pretty clear and allows for people to assist the Mexicans (“the least of these”) by giving them water.  Could it be that Jesus is working through the Franciscans, who have been called to do His work?  If so, there’s no need for Him to flood the desert, is there?  And I guess He DOES want the illegal immigrants here because He’s not letting them die by making sure Humane Borders provides the water they need.  Jesus is pretty smart that way.

Telling the Franciscans not to “bring Jesus into this” is  absurd.  By virtue of the Franciscan Sisters’ involvement with Humane Borders, Jesus is part of this story, and Ms. Larson isn’t letting us forget it.  She ends her letter on this note:

“You [the Franciscans] should be teaching our little ones to have faith, hope and love.”  Apparently, the Franciscans aren’t supposed to spread that faith, hope and love to Mexican children.  Only American children deserve it.  Is this the way of  Jesus?